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Iron Man: The Aftermath May 6, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, Idiocy.
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Despite the darkness set by the burlap sack placed over his head, the man could hear the muttered and guttural voices of what sounded like a Middle Eastern language. The dry arid heat of the surroundings suggested that they have taken him to a desert. Nearby, he could smell the stench of goat and camel droppings, damp molds, and unbathed Arabian men.

It was a strange time to be craving an All-American Cheeseburger.

“Welcome, Mr. Robert Downey Junior,” said his captor in deliberately intoned English, as the burlap sack was finally raised and the captive could finally make sense of his surroundings. The light came rushing into his eyes harshly, causing temporary blindness. Robert struggled against the rope tied on his wrists and legs but it was futile. He can’t get out of the chair.

“Wha– what are you going to do with me? Do you need money? My wife has money, just let me go free…”, the man who used to portray Charlie Chaplin impleaded to the voice who spoke to him, as his eyes finally adjusted to the surroundings. There were five Middle Eastern men with guns, not counting the swarthy leader who spoke to him in deliberate syllabication.


“You keep quiet you fatherless son of a motherless goat!,” the leader yelled, as the pain of his bony hand connected with Robert Downey, Jr’s rather bruised jaw. “We do not want your money, we are rich from our stocks in shawarma! We want you to build us the iron soldiers…”

Robert Downey Jr. was incredulous. “Wait… iron soldiers? Do you mean like from Iron Man?? There must be a mistake, that was only a movie–“


“Do not think you can trick us, Mister Junior. We saw you build the iron soldiers that could fly, shoot missiles and streams of fire. And do not think we would make the same mistake! We will be watching over you, like the hawks of the endless desert. You will not be left alone in the room. We will not give you free reign over missile warheads. We will not even give you lighter fluid! And you WILL build us our iron soldiers, Mr. Robert Downey Junior.”

The actor slumped to his chair, dejected. His agent was right.

He should have taken the role for Mr. Fantastic instead.


Dread and Anticipation March 29, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.
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My barrister friends are awaiting the results of the 2007 Bar Examinations today. I was in their shoes two years ago and I remember the feeling of uncertainty of waiting for the results, not knowing if four years and six months of your life will culminate into seeing your name in the list of successful Bar Examinees.

These pictures will explain how that moment feels.

Good luck friends!

Money for Food March 15, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Economist, Armchair Politics, Seriously now….
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We live in dire times. It is the Ides of March, and the heat of summer brings with it whispers of shortage, famine and economic downturns.

I was reading the column of Alex Magno in the Philippine Star (click on <this link> to read it), and it tells a cautionary tale of how the United States’ impending recession brings with it an adverse effect on the world and our very own Philippines. To quote Mr. Magno:

Analysts are now talking about things that seemed unthinkable only a few weeks ago. Oil, for instance, could reach $120 a barrel very soon.

The reason for that is no longer the dynamics of supply and demand. Oil futures are now under great speculative pressure. As a hedge against the falling dollar, the large institutional funds are putting their money in commodities futures — oil being one major commodity.

Hedging in commodities are pushing prices across the board. It is not only oil that is rising. Grains prices are rising too.

That hits us as well.

Unusual weather the past few months have cut into global grains productions. China, hard hit by extreme cold weather and excessive rains, is prowling all the markets, buying up rice. Vietnam, unsure about its own supply, is not exporting.

We are facing a grains shortage here. Heavy rains in the Visayas and Mindanao drenched the harvest. Imported rice is going to cost significantly more, if we could find enough being exported by other countries.

Rice supply is going to be a problem for us the next few weeks. We are not sure we will be able to procure enough. Even if we do, the commodity is going to cost us more.

The news that the Philippines is hit with a rice shortage is especially frustrating for me. I was just recently in Iloilo, which is one of the country’s major rice producers. During my stay there for the past few days, I’ve been riding the bus going to both Roxas City in Capiz, and Kalibo City in Aklan, and witnessed for myself the endless expanse of ricefields and flatlands, seeing with my own yes how rich our Western Visayas land is. For sure, this is not the only province in the Philippines that has a strong agricultural sector. In Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, we have been blessed with abundant natural resources that will allow our country to be self-sustaining, if only in terms of food production.

And yet, look at us!

We import rice from Thailand and Vietnam, countries that were back before the 1970’s, lagging so far behind us in terms of economy and food production. In fact, the Philippines had the best scientific research institute for the production of rice, which is the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Manila. The Thai and Vietnamese government sent their own scientists to learn how to grow the best rice yield from our country.

But look at us now! We have to beg for rice from our own neighbors who learned how to optimize rice production from us!

It gets even more infuriating when you think about all the opportunities we have had and lost to improve our agricultural sector. The most major opportunity being the “Comprehensive Land Reform Program”, which supposedly empowers our farmers by breaking them from the bondage of agricultural tendency through granting them land which the government mandatorily purchases from private landowners.

Has the CARP really improved our farmers’ lives in any way?

Look at the sugarfields of Negros Occidental, where you still see to this very day, poor and uneducated laborers being paid so much less than minimum wage for backbreaking work. Look at the farms and haciendas that conveniently side-stepped coverage from CARP by allegedly growing “cattle” and having “agricultural corporations” on their land. Go to the farmlands of Capiz where in this age of tractors and the scientific method of farming you still see farmers tilling the land with the lowly carabao and drying their grain by the roadsides where it may be swept away by strong winds and rain.

You see, the problem is not that our population is too big for our food production to supply to. Our problem is that our current agricultural system for the whole country is still stuck on methodologies and farming techniques used at the turn of the 19th Century, which does not yield enough to feed our starving nation. Hence, we have to import food at a higher premium when we have the capacity to solve our own problems with the right farming science and technology.

One of our problems is our very own Filipino farmers. The CARP Law is one major blunder. While the dream of having our own farmers tend to their own land is a laudable objective, the Philippines never developed a comprehensive program that followed up after the CARP. While it is true that SOME of our farmers now own the land that they till, the reality is that these farmers do not know what to do with that land after acquiring ownership. For sure, to increase the land’s yield, they should buy more fertilizer and learn scientific means for better agriculture. If they lacked capital, they could turn to agricultural loans provided by the government, the Asian Development Bank, and a host of private lending institutes offering various credit arrangements for agriculture. They could have sent their children to UP – Los Baños, or to the Visayan State University in order to specialize in courses like BS Agriculture with a Major in Soil Science, and a multitude of other like courses. They could even have banded together through agricultural cooperatives upon which our government grants numerous tax and fiscal incentives, as well as grants and loans.

But most of our farmers did not do any of this! Sometimes, the reason for sticking to the old ways of agriculture is: “I’m old and too set in my ways. I don’t have the time to learn how to use a tractor or these scientific techniques. I just want to farm the way my father did and his father before him.” These farmers do not even want to send their children to agricultural schools because (1) they need the extra manpower in the fields, (2) they would rather send these children to professional schools where they can become office workers, nurses, lawyers and accountants and earn more.

Clearly, these farmers are too poor and ignorant to know that there is a better way for them to improve their lot in life without abandoning their family’s calling to become farmers. It’s just so sad because all the avenues and opportunities have been made within their reach, if only they were not scared to try a different way of farming.

And while our government has been trying hard to encourage our agricultural sector, still, its efforts are not enough. There is still so much room for improvement that it is not taking advantage of.

The government could ultimately solve the peace-and-order situation in Mindanao so that its farmers can finally till the land in peace, and economic development could finally find its way to the fat and abundant agricultural potential of the southern region of the country. It could provide better teachers and facilities to our far-flung barrios, educating our children and making them see that agriculture can and will lead to financial prosperity with the right application of knowledge and skilled endeavor. It could build better roads, provide superior infrastructure, and set up administrative systems to ensure fast and efficient distribution of food and resources.

But what do we have instead? Anybody remember the fertilizer scandal of last year involving a certain unpopular president and her even more unpopular husband?

Our own private institutions are wanting. Instead of encouraging our children to become farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and skilled workers, we are instead pushing them to become seamen, nurses and medical professionals so that they can go abroad and bring money back to the family. Instead of upholding the dignity of labor and the beauty of the countryside, we have a culture that sneers at probinsyanos and looks down on municipalities that do not have their own shopping malls and fast food outlets. Where we encourage our young to go out and build businesses of their own, instead, we give them the easy way out by becoming call center agents with ludicrous salaries for unskilled work.

We Filipinos are killing our own Philippines! We used to be the richest country in Asia! Japanese housewives came to our country in the 1950’s looking for work as househelpers. When Vietnam used to be just a poor hovel that travelled on rikshaws and on foot, our country already had its own airline service that flew to international destinations.

Look at those countries now! Japan was thrown nuclear bombs but it built itself from the ashes to emerge as one of the leading technological wonders of the world. Vietnam just recently launched its first satellite to outer space!

We used to be so much better than our neighbors, but we’ve become the country that everybody looks down on. Our women have become commodities sold on the internet for lonely and desperate old white men who just want to marry a glorified housemaid. We’ve become entertainers, and minstrels, exporting our skilled and learned by the droves to other countries. We are so poor that we cannot even afford to grow our own rice and buy it instead from neighbors who learned how to culture rice from our own laboratories.

And yet….

There is still hope. There is always hope. I refuse to believe that things are so bleak that we have no other recourse but to desert our country like rats fleeing from a sinking ship instead of working hand in hand to solve our problems. We are so much better than this. We are so much better than we allow ourselves to give credit for.

We need a PARADIGM SHIFT and we need it NOW!

I am calling upon the Philippine government to stop playing politics and start running the country back to track.

I am calling upon the farmers and private institutions to realize the value of a strong agricultural backbone as a means of making our country self-sufficient and economically feasible.

I am calling upon our youth to realize that there’s no such thing as easy money, and challenging them to work towards going back to the farmlands and reaping the true riches from our Philippine soil.

I am calling upon each and every Filipino, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, to each and every foreign land and clime, this is a wake-up call because it’s no longer a question of will the Philippines become the economic superpower that it once was in Asia.

It has become a question of SURVIVAL and we are soon going to become a dead country unless we get our act together and start making sure that our institutions, systems, values and philosophies are geared towards becoming greater than the morass of pettiness that we have become.

We live in dire times.

It is the Ides of March, and the heat of summer brings with it whispers of shortage, famine and economic downturns.

We need to act NOW!

Walking on Water March 9, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, I, Lawyer, maniniyot, Seriously now….

In one of my previous picture posts, I talked about the symbolic significance of water in my life and how during times that I am stressed, troubled or in despair, I dream of being near bodies of water.

I am going through one of those times now.  A lot of times I think about how much simpler life was when I wasn’t an adult, where I didn’t have to deal with choices, responsibilities, relationships, or be worried about the state of the nation and the rising costs of basic commodities and goods.

Sometimes I find myself wanting a quiet and uncomplicated life, much like the subject of this series of pictures lead, the Badjao children.

How much simpler it is to be Badjao.  A lot of people look down on the Badjao, because it seems that they live a life spent begging.  It didn’t used to be like this.  My bestfriend Danny C. told me that the Badjao are really a peaceful tribe of indigenous people from the Southern parts of Mindanao who had spent a simple life of subsistence fishing.  They are a peaceful tribe, unused to conflict and warfare, getting along well with each other and always smiling.

It’s a pity that these Badjao have been displaced back in the 1970’s during the time of the political upheaval in Muslim Mindanao.  These poor non-violent people were forced out from their ancestral homelands by their more warlike neighbors, and in order to escape the massacres of that era, the Badjao were made to flee to various parts of the Philippines.

Unused to a life of toil and hardwork, it is now common for us to see the Badjao here in Cebu, in Cagayan de Oro, in Davao, and yes, even in the wharves of Tagbilaran, Bohol, where I took these shots.

Growing up in a family where I was raised to value the dignity of work, I had come to look down on the Badjao.  All you ever see them doing is beg, beg, beg.  They’re dirty, unmannered, and rude.  However, after I heard the story from Danny, I grew to see the Badjao in a different light.  These people have never known better because all their life, they had always known simplicity and living off the sea.  To force them to adapt to the complicated rules and values of the big city is asking too much of these simple people, who now adapt to it the best way they know how… through begging.

I am older now.  I have adapted to the city.  I have work that keeps me facing my laptop the whole day long.  My life has definitely become complicated, and sometimes, it is too complicated.  I’m always exposed to pressure and expectations and a lot of times, it takes everything I have in me just to keep up with my job.  Unused to running, I trip on my feet and land hard on my face.  To quote a toy figure that my other bestfriend Johndi gave me back in high school, “Getting older sucks.

And now, these times, I envy these Badjao children.  Instead of looking down on them, I envy their simple uncomplicated lives.  I envy their freedom, their ability to laugh at their hardships, the close bond that they have with the sea and with each other.  Yes, their lives are tough and it borders on day-to-day survival.  But then again, can we really say our lives are much better?  True, we have more resources and wealth than these little beggars, but in exchange for these, we are saddled with burdens such as taxes, responsibilities, and for us lawyers, an exacting code of professional ethics.

Tell me now, are our lives really any better than theirs?

We are still beggars, living off grace and looking to God to provide us with our daily bread, regardless of whether we are Badjao children, Philippine presidents, or struggling CPA-lawyer-photographers.  Each of our lives are hard on one way or the other, frought with hardships, sacrifice and tears.  As that song by REM goes, “Everybody hurts.

It is times like these that the Badjao children remind me that each and everytime a question of love, faith and hope arises with Jesus, it somehow always involved the water.

We see it when the apostles were trapped out at sea during the height of a mighty storm, and Peter called out to a soundly sleeping Jesus to save them.  “Oh ye of little faith,” Jesus said, as he brought the squall to subside and the boat back to safety.

We see it again when the apostles were out at sea and encountered Jesus walking on water.  Calling out to him, Peter got out and started walking on the waves towards Jesus.  But he looked at the tides, got scared and started to sink to the depths.  Again, calling out to Jesus, he came by and saved him.

Finally, I’m reminded of the time after the resurrection that Jesus told the apostles to cast their nets to the other side of the boat, and came back with a catch of fish overflowing to the brim.

We all experience the storms.  We all have questions of faith, and look within only to find ourselves sorely lacking.  And we cry out calling to the Lord for succour and He tells us, “Oh ye of little faith.”

Like the Badjao, we need to believe that despite all our troubles, tomorrow will be another day.  The sun will be shining and the tides will subside.  Like them, we are all beggars of faith, wholly dependent on our Father to get us through another long night.  And with this trust in Him, we lean back and smile.

The storms will not last forever.

It takes one step then another, holding Jesus’ hand, for us to find out to our disbelief, that yes, through the certainty of faith, we CAN walk on water.

Ako si Mr. Kodaker December 19, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, maniniyot.

This is an ongoing series delving into a new-found interest in photography. The author is a novice photographer who bought his first digital SLR camera on September of 2007. Prior to that, he was a long time campus journalist who occasionally dabbled in photojournalism using a point-and-pray, eerrrr, an analog P350 point-and-click film camera. To pay for his new-found expensive hobby, the author took a day job that involves suing people, kissing ass, and drinking copious amounts of cheap instant coffee. Someday, the author will find it: the rainbow connection… the lovers, the dreamers and me.


To be honest, I’ve never planned to get into photography.

My best friend Johndi has been persuading me since our elementary years to take up the hobby together with him, and although I listened intently when he explained the whole deal to me, I’ve always declined the offer to join him in photography. Unlike Johndi, I didn’t have a father that collected SLR cameras and lenses (a Leica, a Nikon, a Canon, and some obscure Russian brand, to cite some items in his collection), and unlike Johndi, I didn’t have an allowance that could afford to buy rolls and rolls of film for taking pictures of fish, ducks, and ugly dogs. In fact, prior to my SLR, I’ve only owned two other cameras in my life, both of them the cheap kind powered by ordinary AA batteries. Hence, his offer was met with a meandering half-grin that meant I’d rather spend my meager allowance on comic books, video games and women who will just end up dumping me for being such a fugly geek.

A decade after Johndi’s repeated and rebuffed offers of entering into the nifty world of photography, my sister bought herself an almost-SLR camera and toted it around with her when she came home to Cebu for a visit. Again, she offered to let me try out her gear, but again, I wasn’t interested. In fact, I was amused when she ended up taking pictures of almost anything and everything that she could find. Food, street merchandise, funny-looking people… you name it, she probably has a picture of it locked up somewhere in her hard drive.

My reasons for NOT going into photography were numerous: it is an expensive hobby; cameras are delicate equipment; the whole process looks boring; photographers are geeks yadda yadda yadda. I just didn’t find photography worth my time and money.

And yet, for some bizarre reason, I made a split-second decision on September of this year to take up photography. It all started when my friend Danny was telling me that he wanted to buy his own SLR camera and take pictures of Batanes. Coincidentally, I happened to have a cousin who was also named Danny who had previously won a photo contest, so I volunteered to learn more about photography from my cousin and share the information with my friend. So when the opportunity arose to talk to my cousin (which was unfortunately during the wake of our aunt), I tried to glean as much as I could about the subject from the learned and experienced.

Up to now, I still don’t know why I decided to take up photography after finding out more about it from my photographer cousins.

Maybe it was from the realization that photography looked like fun. When my cousins Danny, chito, and Terry started talking about glory days of running around the streets of Cebu for the Sinulog photography contest, I started getting the sense of the adventure behind the hobby. When they discussed gears and lenses, the geek in me was challenged by the promise of science and obscure gadgets. But I think it was when they mentioned taking pictures of scantily-clad women in a relative’s beach resort in Bantayan Island, I was swayed by the promise of my own private pornographic collection taken by my very own camera.

I think THAT was the tipping point for me. Photography. Pornography. DING! A light bulb lit up in my head. Hey! The words rhyme!

Two weeks after, I started hauling a Nikon D40 all around Cebu, taking pictures of anything and everything. Doors, my neighbors, stones, flowers, trees, and animals. You name it, I have an overexposed and blurry picture of it lying somewhere in my hard-drive, right beside my precious Barely Legal collection Volumes 1 to 192. Homaygas! Mothers lock your daughters! Janjan Perez is now wielding a 6-megapixel digital camera and has a DSL connection in his house!

My life has then changed in major ways.

Not all the changes have been good, however. So far, I have summoned all the willpower I had in my system to resist the photographer’s conceit…. I have successfully avoided placing a headshot of myself looking through the viewfinder of a camera in my Multiply, Friendster, Orkut, Myspace and Facebook profiles. However, the urge to look oh so sophisticated in all my photographerish glory is growing stronger and stronger everyday. I am holding out until I can get a lens hood for my 18-55mm Nikkor… maybe it can disguise the fact that I only own the basic set.

I have also developed the photographer’s version of penis envy…. I feel inadequate holding my rinky-dinky Nikon D40 with its oh so cute kit lens right beside someone carrying a Canon Mark II with a white L-series ultraelectromagnetic super zoom lens of DOOM! To compensate, I bought myself a sturdy and long black monopod. If ever the envy is too strong to hold, I can always hit that Canonian at the back of his expensive head with the monopod and run away laughing with my practiced evil genius cackle. MOOOHOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (with matching lightning and thunder booming in the background)

And gear lust. Let us not even get into gear lust. It is taking everything in my soul to hold myself back from splurging on an 18-200mm Nikkor VR lens.

But I guess the good things outweigh the bad. All things considered, life has been a lot more interesting when seen through the viewfinder of my Nikon D40.

I’ve discovered that I enjoy capturing special moments with my DSLR. I’ve taken pictures of a child’s first birthday, capturing the pride and joy in his parents’ faces, and the mirth and excitement of children crowding around a clown handing special prizes. I covered the baptism of my best friend’s daughter, and preserved for posterity the joy glowing from the grandparents of the beautiful new Christian. I’ve captured the golden sunset upon the tide and dark sands of Dipolog’s Boulevard, the whir of mechanical gears from a cigarette factory in Pasig City, the concern and worry of the faces of police officers from ground zero of the Glorietta 2 blast site, the love permeating between a young couple watching their reflection on the man-made lake in D’ Family Park of Cebu.

And now my blog entries in Multiply, WordPress and Friendster can be peppered with my very own thousand-words-in-one-image, lending veracity and color to the written story.

But I guess the best thing for me about taking up photography is that there is now a common link binding me to certain friends and relatives, photography enthusiasts, and picture onlookers. I can enjoy discussing the merits of spot metering vs. matrix metering with Johndi, who is ecstatic that I’ve finally taken up his long-time hobby. I can look forward to a Sinulog running alongside my Ybanez cousins taking shots for the contest in Cebu. I can share my sister’s excitement in saving up to buy a Canon 5D. I can deliberate with Danny (the friend, not the cousin) on which layering technique would work best for a certain image.

The best adventures are those that are unexpected, and that has been what photography has been for me. Yes, it is an expensive hobby, but the instant gratification I feel when I capture the perfect shot is something that money cannot buy. Priceless.

For everything else, there’s Mastercard.

Unused Blogging Muscles December 15, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
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I knew it was going to happen someday.

I would finally want to sit down and update my blog, but there is nothing that is worthy of writing about. So I just sit here, enumerating mundane points-of-time vignettes about my relatively dull life which are only of importance to myself.

So SHOO!…. you can stop reading now. I might bore you to tears.

What, you’re still here?

You’re a lot more bored than I thought you would be. Well okay then, here are snapshots of my so-called life, as it is at the moment:

1) Christmas Party season

December is here and Christmas Parties about all over Cebu. I’ve so far been invited to two Christmas parties. The first Christmas party was supposed to be last November 30. It was to be an island hopping event with an overnight stay at a small beach resort. Well… it pushed through except for one thing: the office manager of the company (who was the one who invited me) conveniently forgot to pick me up on the day that we were to leave for the beach, which she said she would do. She called me up on the following working day, explaining that she had so many things to take care of that she only remembered forgetting to pick me up when she got to the beach herself.

Yeah right.

Oh well… I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, so I just let it slide. I don’t know what the deal was with her, so I just let her be. *shrug* I was kinda disappointed though because I was looking forward to taking pictures of our island-hopping trip, as well as night shots of the moon-lit beach.

Last night, I attended another client’s Christmas Party, which was a masquerade ball held in Fort San Pedro. That one was very interesting. I bought myself one of those cheap 9-peso plastic masks sold in the local department store, expecting my client and his employees to do the same, but to my surprise, they came with elaborate masks that they fashioned themselves, very much like those found in Venetian gala parties in the Victorian era. Well, what would you expect from a company that exports furniture accessories? They’re bound to have very creative craftsmen. I was made to be one of the judges in all their contests for the night, witnessing their hidden talents, such as singing, dancing, and creativity in certain games. And, as concluded by their very own bosses, it was remarked, “Some talents should remain hidden.”

They had very interesting games which I’ve never seen before, such as “Dress Up Your Santa Contest” where each team was given red crepe paper, a roll of scotch tape, and a whole bag-full of foam-cotton, the objective being to convert one of their members into the closest parody of Santa Claus, front and back. We had to disqualify one team because they dressed up their member as Mrs. Claus.

Another interesting game was the “Gift Wrapping Contest.” This was interesting because it comprised of two members from each team, each pairs’ right and left hand tied together while their untied hands had to work in tandem to wrap a Christmas present.

I have a feeling that I will be invited to three other clients’ Christmas parties within the month. Our firm’s own party is coming up on Friday, and already there is this really gigantic box under the office Christmas tree with my name on it. I hope it’s not a stripper in hiding. I only plan on opening that box on Friday. She might starve.

2) Christmas Gifts

I’ve done my Christmas shopping early and bought gifts for all my inaanaks and some pamangkins, as well as some gifts for the people in the firm. I’ve gotten some gifts in advance as well. A client sent me a cake from La Marea, and another sent me that gigantic box which I previously mentioned. My parents gave me my Christmas gift in advance, a handsome and lightweight black jacket with reflector stripes. Also, last November, I got a stack of books from my sister.

The only people I haven’t bought a gift for yet are for those close to my heart: some friends (the special children), my sister (Nips, timbon na lang when you get home), and my parents. It is impossible to buy gifts in advance for my folks, especially for my dad, who is picky about the things you give him. So for Christmas, I will have to take them both to the mall to do our shopping.

3) Simbang Gabi –

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is coming up tomorrow, the Simbang Gabi. I’ve been going to the Simbang Gabi all my life, accompanying my mom, lola, tita, sister and cousins for this annual tradition, but it has only been for the last 5 or 6 years that I’ve made a habit of completing the attendance of all 9 days of the Simbang Gabi.

My family attends the Simbang Gabi of Redemptorist Church, which is held on 5am, starting tomorrow. The nice thing about going to Redemptorist Church is that they have immediately after the mass, as certain charitable churchgoers sell foodstuff the capital AND proceeds of which go directly to the Church fund, which has benefitted many scholars and calamity victims over the past few years. Plus, some of the pama-init stall vendors include Cafe Laguna which sells their well-reknown bibingka.

Since tomorrow is the first day of the Simbang Gabi, and a Sunday to boot, expect very large crowds.

4) Balikbayan in town –

One of my oldest and closest friends arrived in town yesterday night, flying over from New Jersey in the United States. This friend is Dr. John David Seno, a Board topnotcher twice over (once in the Philippines and the other time in the US, where he scored 99 in the recent exam… the highest score ever achieved in the State of New York).

This guy has been my bestfriend since the 5th Grade. If you think that I’m one of the screwiest and most green-minded persons, you’ve ever met, well let me reveal to you that my corrupting influence is this guy, Johndi. This is the same guy who introduced me to the wonderful world of pornography and hard partying, for which I am eternally grateful for.

Johndi was into photography even way back in our teens, so I hope to take Johndi out down South later this month for a photoshoot with me in one of the Churches. Plus, I wanna see how it feels like to use a Nikon D80, which is the SLR being used by Johndi.


And that is my life, so far.

And whoah! I’m blogging again.

Science, Progress and Restlessness December 1, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Seriously now….

In basic general science, we’ve learned that a body at rest does not launch into motion unless propelled by a force of energy sufficient to overcome the pull of gravity upon its stationary mass.In my case, I am a body at rest and in lieu of gravity, the forces which have frozen me into inaction (and sometimes stupification), are the mind-numbing paralyses of stagnation and ennui.

The fact is that I just don’t want to move.

I just want to crawl under a rock like a dung beetle and bide my time away while I make sense of my bearings and understand where True North lies for this mangy, flea-bitten wolf.

Unfortunately, Time won’t stand still with me. It moves in tides and ebbs with the threat of prescriptive periods, deadlines, and deliverables. While I remain as a practitioner of law, I cannot afford the steep price of killing time to get to know myself better.

My responsibilities to the law firm and its clients is paramount over my own selfish self-interest. These are without mention of my heavier duties to my family, as one of its breadwinners.

I am an object in motion whose critical mass of stagnation and discontent demands that I shut down and store potential energy. Unfortunately, the strong winds of duty, necessity and survival prod me along unwillingly towards a stumbling vector of resistant movement.

In truth, I do not wish to be made to move against my will. I want to act of my own volition, towards the first quadrant of the vector, where the passion of my spirit increases in proportion to the distance covered by my movement. Rather than be made to move against its intent, this object that desires to be at rest wishes to find the energy within itself to move and run by bounds and leaps.

And what is this inner energy that I seek? Some men have named it as Inspiration, Passion and Purpose.

But of those, I have none.


And with this, I apologize to my regular readers (if I have any left) from my long absence and erratic pause-gaps in blogging. I just don’t have it in me to summon the arrogance and project the sublime bastardry of the Magnificent Atty. Perez. Right now, I’m just Janjan, a tired and overworked new lawyer.

Escapism in my Mind November 15, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Seriously now….

Ever since I’ve graduated from high school, I’ve either been studying or working or both. At the most, I have had only my summer vacations back in my undergraduate years in Accounting to count as real vacations where I had nothing to do but lounge around in the house.

And I’ve realized that I’m tired. I want to run away. That is my fondest wish. I want to get lost to this world, to be a complete stranger in a strange land. I want to take time, a year and a day, to just stop and reflect. I want to reorient myself, know where I’m headed, understand who I am, and just reconnect to the world that I feel I’m alienated from. I want to take time to meditate and get to know my God better.

But of course, that is just an idle fantasy. The reality is that I have duties at home, to my clients and to life in general that bars me from irresponsibly dropping everything and being self-indulgent. But nevertheless, I can always run away in my dreams.

The question begs therefore… where will I run off to? What will I do? What will I carry?

Well… in my imagination, I’m packing the following things: One week’s worth of change in clothes, plus a lot of laundry soap for my washing. A strong, sturdy and waterproof knapsack. A nuclear-powered laptop with satellite link to the Internet (so I can still keep track of the world and let everyone know that I’m alright and alive), a magnesium-alloy body DSLR, with a full complement of Nikkor lenses (macro, fisheye, tele-zoom, and wide-angle). The camera should be chargeable against the laptop’s nuclear battery.

I would be riding an amphibious car that can run on land or water, powered by super-efficient solar panels. My wallet would have enough to meet for my basic needs during all the time that I’m away. I will carry a cellphone with satellite link-up, but on a strict firewal that only allows me to be accessed in case of someone dear to me.

And now… where do I go off to? Where will I spend my year and a day in solitude?

My conditions are that the place where I am going to must be quiet, solitary and cut-off from the rest of the world. I would like to hear myself think, that’s why I would like to go to:

1) The Benedictine Trappist monastery in Belgium that reputedly brews the best beer in the world. I would love to stay there and learn the secrets of their brewery. Plus, I could also learn the Benedictine’s discipline of prayer and meditation. They could assign me somewhere, perhaps to their vegetable patch or to their carpentry room, where I could make myself useful. I could already imagine myself in the beautiful and cold temperate forests of Belgium, taking pictures of black bears and wolves, and hying off for vespers at the Trappist chapel. And as we turn in for the night, we are handed our ration of heaven’s beer.

2) Osaka, Japan, the birthplace of karate, where I will train with the best karate masters in the world. I’ve been a Japanophile way before the advent of the anime craze in the Philippines. I love the quiet minimalism associated with Japanese culture. I want to wake up to a glorious sunset with a D300 in hand, taking pictures of cranes bobbing for fishes in the Osakan sea.

3) The Banaue Rice Terraces. I want to live amongst the Ifugaos, and get my hands dirty planting rice alongside them. I want to take pictures of their ritual medicine dances and sleep in their conical stilt huts.

4) The Wudan Temple in inland China… the one that was used in the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Oh to learn meditation principles and kung-fu with the Wudan masters…. that would be a treat. Mind you, I am not talking about the Shaolin monks (the ones in orange robes, practicing Buddhism), but the brown robe-clad monks of the Taoist sect. Why? Because if you’ve seen the movie, you’d know how breathtakingly beautiful the Wudan Temple is and how hard it is to access.

5) The wineyards of Champagne, France, where I will harvest the delicate white wine grapes together with the French peasants. A bonus for me would be if it has an eerie forest, just like the one seen in “Le Pacte le Loupe” (Brotherhood of the Wolf), where there are great photo opportunities waiting to be captured.

6) Barcelona, Spain, where my Perez roots are said to hail from. Barcelona… a city full of painters, passionate women, flamenco guitars and tango dancers. Beautiful stucco roofs, old buildings, flourishing art all around… strong, full-bodied… just like brandy.

7) A castle in Germany. I’m a big fan of the medieval ages, and what better way bto retrace the roots of the Dark Ages than visit the land where Goths, Visigoths and Vandals once rampaged? I could spend hours learning German and then poring over ancient manuscripts hand-written by Jesuit friars.

I guess this is my list of idyllic places where I want to run away and hide from the rest of the world. One can only dream. 🙂

Magnificent in Iloilo October 27, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.

I am writing in the stark new whiteness that is Iloilo’s international airport, arriving an hour earlier than my scheduled flight. It is 7:43 in the morning, a diffused gray light permeating through gray overcast clouds and the vents of the airport roof.

Two days earlier, I was appearing for the private complainant in a criminal case for the violation of B.P. Blg. 22, the Bouncing Checks Law. It was an interesting experience for me, one where the gentle spirit of the Ilonggo people was laid bare before the halls of justice.

Being a case for bouncing checks, my hearing was held at the Municipal Trial Court, where jurisdiction over B.P. 22 cases is lodged. There were around 20 other cases slated for hearing prior to our case’s arraignment, in various stages of hearing, from arraignment to pre-trial to full-blown trial.

I was amused to observe the proceedings of these cases. Most of these were for violations of B.P. 22, and I was surprised to see that considering the number of cases slated for hearing that day, I only saw a few lawyers. The room could barely contain the throng of people gathering outside to participate in the proceedings. The first few cases were called, and to confirm my suspicions, most if not all the party-litigants weren’t represented by legal counsel. That was weird. In Cebu, it is very uncommon for parties to appear in court without being represented by a lawyer, while here in this court, counsel represented only 1 out of every 5 cases.

The judge started the day by berating the number of people gathered before her to try their cases, for the reason that so many of the B.P. 22 cases lodged with her court had barely moved from the date of filing. Now this is surprising, notwithstanding the delay in the Philippine justice system. In my experience in Cebu, B.P. 22 cases usually were resolved within a year, or 2 years most. But it seemed like each and every case that stood before the judge had long been stuck in litigation, taking around 3 to 5 years to move from arraignment to pre-trial, which is highly unusual.

Now there can only be two reasons for this delay of so many number of cases. It was either that that particular court didn’t have a judge for the said number of years and that the judge before me was newly installed to her position. But on the other hand, it could also be that the party litigants themselves delayed the trial of the case either through neglect, lack of interest, or mutual consent to delay the case.

Judging from the ebullient rantings of that judge, I guess the situation in this court was of the latter, that the litigants themselves have not moved for the prosecution of the case. Again, I found this unusual. Usually, in Cebu, once the private complainant filed the case for B.P. 22, his lawyer’s marching orders are to hasten the proceedings for immediate collection in the case. But here in Iloilo, I was amused to find that the private complainants themselves were asking the judge to give them more time to settle the case with the accused, as if they were embarrassed to have filed the case in the first place with the court. Of course, the judge got angrier at that point and started chiding the parties in Ilonggo.

“Ti lima na ka tuig inyong settlement haw, kag way pa gihapon mo na obra nga compromise. Guin-usik-usik lang ninyo akon oras, indi na puwede! Mag-pre-trial na ta subong, kay kun dili, akon i-dismiss ang kaso!” (You have been trying to settle this case for 5 years and until now, you still haven’t worked out a compromise. You’re just wasting my time, this cannot be. We shall have pre-trial today, otherwise I will dismiss the case).

I actually pitied the accused. Had they hired a lawyer, they themselves could have moved for the dismissal of the case with prejudice, for the violation of their Constitutional right to speedy trial. 5 years is an abnormally long time to resolve a B.P. 22 case. And for what? The amounts involved in the trial were very minimal, ranging anywhere from P10,000 to P30,000.

This reveals a lot about the Ilonggo people to me, insofar as litigation is concerned. Based on this, I infer that Ilonggos are very gentle people who would avoid direct confrontation at all costs, preferring to work things out through compromise and discussion. Judging from their behavior in the courts, the party litigants seemed like they didn’t want to have to resort to litigation to enforce collection of the checks, but perhaps to show the accused that they meant business, the private complainants filed the cases anyway for collection.

In Cebu, you would have found the party litigants arguing in heated debate before the judge. Here in Iloilo, after sheepish appearance before the courts, the parties walked away shaking hands and smiling at each other. Interesting. Indeed, the Ilonggos are a warm and gentle people.

My client, a Cebuano contractor for construction projects, also pointed out something interesting about Iloilo: the buildings and their interiors were better designed than the ones in Cebu. He concluded that architects here had more say over the outcome of the building and that Ilonggos were willing to spend good money for good-looking homes and offices, much like the people in Manila. This was unlike Cebu where cost, value and functionality were more important considerations over design and aesthetics, evidenced by the admittedly drab and Spartan design of Cebuano structures. In Cebu, the contractor had bigger say over the final outcome of the construction, much more than the architects, consistent with the Cebuano mentality that “We don’t care so much about it looking fancy, just make sure the building is stable and built at low cost.”

I wish I had more time to tour around during my stay here but my time was spent at the hotel studying my cases and working on pending pleadings. I would have wanted to visit the old houses and churches that the Ilonggos are known for. At least I got to meet up with old friends and sample some of the tasty Ilonggo cuisine. The batchoy and the inasal nga manok was superb. I also got to see that contrary to what I expected, Iloilo was actually quite urbane. I was expecting something like Tagbilaran or Dipolog, a city that still looks like a town.

Well… they’re calling my flight back home to Cebu. Thus ends my first ever trip to the land of batchoy, Dinagyang, beautiful buildings and gentle people. It was an interesting trip, but nevertheless, it would be good to go back home.

Cleaning Up October 14, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, clean and green, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

I am rousing myself from my self-imposed intellectual slumber to take part in a movement around the world calling one and all to care about the environment. It’s a movement called Blog Action Day, where bloggers like me are endeavored to raise ecological awareness.

As a Filipino living in the second most heavily-populated metropolis in the country, my ecological concern is about sanitation and garbage management, one of the biggest offshoots and problems arising from the rise of urban living.

As children, we were brought up to believe that “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” And although I was not the tidiest and most fastidious child in the planet, I was however very conscientious about putting my trash straight into the garbage can. It makes sense. We cannot abide clutter in our houses, right? We don’t like to see torn plastic packets, dust, fallen leaves, refuse, bottles, and food wastes lying around where rats, cockroaches and other vermin may scurry about and infest our well-kept homes and tidied apartments.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why our cleanliness and sanitation practices are left behind when we leave our houses. We are supposed to be a well-educated and highly-disciplined nation, and yet, when we go outside, it’s a common sight to see people throwing their waste and refuse just about anywhere. Back when I was still a student, I was distressed to see my fellow schoolmates throwing their barbecue sticks, puso wrappers, and candy packets on the floor, not caring enough to find a nearby trash can to throw their wastes.

I wish the practice stopped as I got older where people are supposed to be more mature and disciplined, but I fear that the older people get, the more callous they were of their surroundings. In fact, I often witnessed one of my classmates in law school, a professional, repeatedly throwing his candy wrappers inside our own classroom, when a garbage can was only a few meters away from where he was eating. I wanted so much to point out to him that this practice was offensive to me because I shared a classroom with him and as students of a prestigious university, a higher caliber of discipline and cleanliness is expected of us. I don’t know which is more disturbing to me, the fact that my highly educated classmate could callously live like a pig or the fact that I who knew better could not bring myself to scold him about his littering in the premises.

The fact is that our littering must stop. It’s the cause of so much of our problems as urban dwellers. Indiscriminate littering has clogged up our sewers and esteros so that come rainy season, we find our streets flooded with dirty rain water and the ghosts of our unsanitary practices coming back to haunt us. Our littering is then washed up to the rivers and seas, causing the pollution of our waters and the poisoning of our precious reefs and fishes.

But even these serious ecological problems aside, doesn’t the sight of trash and refuse disturb anyone anymore? I’ve had the privilege of living in great urban metropolises abroad, from Los Angeles, to San Francisco, to New Jersey and New York. I’ve been to Hong Kong and Toronto and seen cities that are much more heavily populated than Cebu or Manila, and yet walking along their busy causeways and streets, you would find nary a candy wrapper, biscuit packet, or broken bottle lying for all to see or walk on. In fact, it would be very rare to find ANYONE throwing their trash and refuse just about anywhere on the street.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we Filipinos are PIGS. Our sanitation and littering practices are atrocious. Whether you’re walking along the highly urban streets of Ayala Ave. in Makati City or the sub-urban paths along Cardinal Rosales Ave. in Cebu City, you’re likely to find trash, refuse and the leavings of insensitive urban dwellers so callously left behind on our public streets and avenues.

In fact, one little anecdote sticks to my mind pointing out how unhygienic we Filipinos are. During my first time in the U.S., my American uncle treated the whole family out to a snack at MacDonald’s. I was the first to finish eating, and like most Filipinos, I just left my burger wrapper and plastic cup on my tray, lying on the table for the MacDonald’s busboy to clean up. My uncle called my attention and pointed out that in the U.S., after the customers finish eating, it was expected of them to put their own litter in the trashcan. And true to form, I saw the American patrons cleaning up after themselves, leaving the table ready for the next customer to use them.

We Filipinos pride ourselves in being thoughtful, educated and cultured as a race, and yet, why can’t we emulate something as simple and efficient as that? It’s just a simple matter of cleaning up after ourselves.

Whenever I confront the notorious litterers among my friends, they always give me the excuse, “Well, what are we paying the janitor for then?” Having a janitor or a busboy or a metro-aide to clean up after you is no excuse for us to practice good sanitation and hygiene in our premises, regardless of whether it is in the comfort of our own homes or in public areas of common use. The fact is that as supposedly highly-educated people, we owe it to ourselves to be responsible of where we throw our garbage.

As urban dwellers, you and I are no longer carefree citizens whose domain stops at the perimeter of our fences. We are very closely inter-connected that the practices of one will have a domino effect on the life of another. Every time you play your music too loud, or callously throw your refuse on the street, or even breathe out your cigarette smoke where other people breathe, you are already polluting the environment and affecting the people who live in the city with you.

We all have to be responsible because we do not live in a vacuum where we alone are affected by our own actions. The misdeeds of callousness of one can lead to the degradation of the quality of life of another.

I still believe that cleanliness is next to godliness and we Filipinos, who profess ourselves to be the only dominantly-Christian country in Asia, owe it to ourselves to reflect the Christ within us by living clean and pure even in the most little of practices.

Please… help ease our country’s garbage management problems by simply putting your garbage where it belongs… inside a trashcan. It’s really just as simple as that.